Monday, April 25, 2011

You have a Classroom Solution: Now What?

So now your classroom has been setup with the new district solution. What does all of this stuff do you might be asking or rather what IS all of this new stuff? For now know that your school will have a member of the Instructional Technology Staff come out and do an in depth training on all items within your new Interactive Classroom. Let's take a look at what is involved in your new setup.

We have designated three designs of Interactive Classroom for the schools depending on the grade level you are teaching. If you are in the Middle or High Schools you will have an eInstruction Solution. If you are in an Elementary School you will either have a(n) SMARTClassroom or ActivClassroom Solution.

Each Classroom solution has similar items included, I will give a brief description of what everyone will have and then go into detail on what the differences are afterwards. All classrooms will have a Lightspeed classroom audio system. The
system includes the deck unit which controls the volume for the computer as well as the two lapel microphones and the concert mic. Each classroom will also have desktop computer with flat panel monitor and USB hub that will be in the cart. This will allow you to not have to rely on one of your classroom computers to be the used in the cart at the front of the room. On the top of the cart you will have a Lumens Document Camera, which is the rounded Ladibug design and provides you with a myriad of additional integrating opportunities. Within the cart itself you have three areas, the upper area has a flip down panel which has two pull out trays and a storage area. On the bottom right is a smaller storage area where the computer is housed. On the left is the larger storage area with a pull out drawer and shelf where the sound deck is stored. When both lower doors are opened you will have access to a third pull out tray which provides an additional workspace.

OK, now that we have discussed what is universal to each cart, let's take a look at what is not the same depending on your grade level. If you are in a Middle or High school you will have the eInstruction Classroom Solution which includes a Wall mounted LCD flat panel monitor, Mobi Interactive tablet and Pulse voting system(CPS).

If you are in the Elementary Schools there are two different models of solution choice. Some schools will have the SMARTClassroom solution which includes an Interactive White Board(IWB), SMART Airliner Interactive Tablet and SMART Response voting system.

The second option for Elementary Schools is the Promethean ActivClassroom. In this setup you will have the Interactive White Board, ActivSlate and Learner Response voting system(LRS).

There are handouts for each Classroom Solution available on the Curriculum Warehouse: Learning Village, located in the Curriculum sections Resource button. Also for our School Technology Facilitators the same information is in the Webportal in the Classroom Solutions folder under the Information for Technology Facilitators Link.

photos provided by: eInstruction, SMART, Promethean

Friday, April 15, 2011

The 3D Interactive Solar System

A couple of days ago a colleague posted a link to a website that offered a view of the Solar System. I was skeptical at first needless to say, thinking that it might not be a really educator friendly website. Boy was I surprised.

The site Solar System Scope(SSS) is a 3D interactive website that allows you to explore all there is in our solar system from the planets individually to Saturn's rings to the Constellations.

When you go to the site initially and just let the page load you will notice that the site seems to be moving on its own, changing views and showing different information on its own. The site is set up, so that it will seem to from what I gather, to demo each area of the websites option choices for viewing. Once you click on the site you are then able to interact with the Menus, planets and other objects on the screen.

Along the left side of the webpage there are three tabs that allow you to interact with the site in different ways. In the first tab you will find the Cursor Info Texts which define what each of the cursor identities are. You will also find the Hand icon that allows you to; of course, interact with items on the page. The second tab shows you the different views that you can see while using the page. These affect the broad views of the entire webpage unlike the Hand icon interacting with individual items. The view types are Heliocentric, Geocentric and Panoramatic. The third tab gives you the Setting information and Search features of the site. You can change the Planet and Moon, Stars and Constellations, Earth Observatory, Time and Reset settings from the tab. You can find a Planet or Moon, Star or Constellation or find a Specific Time in the Search features.

On the right side of the page you have a slide ruler that allows you to zoom in and out within the viewing area. Along the bottom of the page is the Time and Date Calendar. If you hover over either of the items you will see a clock or calendar for you to change settings. Then there is a Start, Fast Forward and Fast Rewind time buttons where you can see the solar system in action.

Lastly up in the top right hand corner of the screen you can change the Language, hide the interface button. Then you can use the Arrow button and/or the Space bar to change you out to the full screen mode and back.

The site looks great and the possibilities are limitless on how you can use it in your classroom. It would also be a great tool to use with your Interactive White Board to show the solar system on a larger screen where your students can come up and touch the board and move things around and make things happen. In just a few days that I have known about the site I have shared it with a number of teachers at the Elementary school level and all of them have really been excited to see it and use it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Did U Know: Doc Cams and Other Software

As you know I have been sharing a few things lately about Document Cameras with you and today is not unlike the others.

I have a new feature tool that you can utilize which you may not have thought about or had even known could really be done.

Did you know that you could take the displayed content directly from the doc cam and place it into any one of a number of different software packages that you may currently have loaded on your computer? Now I have to preface this by saying that I am a PC guy and cannot guarantee that any of the information that follows will work with a Mac. If there is anyone out there that has tried these please share them so what we can all be informed. As well I have verified just the software packages below will allow for this to occur, please share if you have accomplished this with additional software and I will update my posts.

Now it does not matter whether or not you have an Interactive White Board (#IWB) just that you at least have a computer/laptop, a doc cam and a digital projector to perform the following functions.

Within the eInstruction Workspace, ActivInspire, SMARTBoard and Office Products (Word, Excel and Power Point) you are able to insert the doc cam display directly into the product in an image format. The feature for the most part is part of the Insert Menu on all of the products in one way or another. When you choose the Insert Menu item and the Scanner/Camera option you are asked to import from a specific device. Depending on what type of doc cam you have hooked up to the computer/laptop will determine what you choose from the listed items. Here is a sample listing for some of the doc cam models on the market.

DC130, 150, 155, 160, 162 and 210 choose Visual Presenter V1 Twain
DC166, 260 and 265 choose Visual Presenter V2 Twain

300P and 300AF+ choose Visual Presenter V1 Twain

210 and 335 choose Visual Presenter V1 Twain

Embedded below are the steps per software package on how to Insert the displayed image directly into the listed software packages.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Video Killed the Radio Star

In a bit of irony Steven (@web20classroom) was talking to me the other day about creating some short video tech tips that we can post and share out with the district. I said that I thought it would be a great idea. Little did I know that I would be the guinea pig in this project. Although I have plenty of years standing in front of small groups of 15 to 30 people with as many as 75 sometimes, this is something that would probably go out to many more people and would increase my digital foot print immensely. Thus causing me more anxiety than I previously thought, but I digress.

So I stressed a little bit about doing it and reluctantly said that I would dive in and be the first person to share a tech tip. So what was the topic going to be? Why not using
Document Cameras with Skype. It is something that I have passion for and have learned a lot about, so I said yes lets create the video. Now the stress level kicked in. What if I mess up, or don't talk loud enough, maybe I will butcher the steps to set things up and ruined things for some people to set up their doc cam as a webcam for Skype.

Finally today hit and it was down to the wire and we needed to get going on creating the video. I mulled around for a while and finally got cornered and it was time to start filming. Surprisingly enough things went very well and we got the tech tip in on one take. So how do I feel about it, I feel great about it and will definitely do it again, so look out for more videos from not only me and @web20classroom but from the rest of the crew here at WS/FC DIT Department.

Oh, I almost forgot, here is the link to the
video for our first WSFCS DIT tech tip.